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Film Review: Matterhorn

13th January 2014

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Straight-laced Fred (Ton Kas) lives a simple, if lonely life in a devoutly religious village in the Netherlands. Recently widowed and with a son who disappeared in mysterious circumstances, his life is devoted to his church, dreary routine and a bland dinner at exactly six o’clock each day.

However, when tramp Theo (|Rene van ’t Hof) ambles gently into his life, Fred is thrown back into contact with the outside world. Taking a paternal interest in Theo – who has the mental age of a five year old – he is forced to confront his past and prejudices, reconnecting with his darkest secrets and pain. Will he be able to forgive himself and his past, and how far is he willing to use Theo in pursuit of his memories?

Showing as part of the Loco London Comedy Film Festival, Matterhorn is more of a surprisingly tender tragicomedy. While the film definitely generates a few laughs - Theo’s dancing frog is a treat - it’s just as likely to leave you desperately holding back the tears at its final twist.  

Ton Kas is terrific as the deadpan Fred, slowly revealing layers of emotion as the film progresses, while there is excellent support from Porgy Franssen as a pious and nosy neighbour.

Matterhorn (2013) English subtitle trailer from Jonathan Wakeham on Vimeo.

What really sets Matterhorn apart is director Diederik Ebbinge’s fearlessness. At times the film has an unsettling, disquieting edge as you wonder who is manipulating who and for what end, but you never lose faith in the characters, who are well-drawn.

Matterhorn won the Rotterdam Audience Award last year, becoming the first Dutch film in 15 years to do so, and also won Best Film at the Moscow Film Festival.

Showing as part of the closing day of the Loco London Comedy Film Festival, Matterhorn is perfect Sunday afternoon viewing, providing an uplifting story with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing throughout. If the rest of the festival is as good as this, then London’s film scene is in for a treat.

The UK premiere of Matterhorn is showing at the BFI Southbank on Sunday 26th January. For tickets and full listings for the Loco London Film Festival, click here.  

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